Middle East/North Africa

Taliban co-founder reemerges amid reported divisions in leadership

Abdul Ghani Baradar, who currently serves as deputy prime minister of the Taliban's interim government, gave an interview on Afghan national television on Wednesday, refuting rumors that he had been injured or killed during a dispute at the presidential palace last week.

"I am fine," Baradar said in the message, according to The Washington Post.

He added that senior Taliban officials "have good and cordial relations with each other, even closer than a family" and that the media spread "shameful lies," the Post said. 

Baradar's messaging comes after details of the makeup of the new government in Kabul were announced on Sept. 7, sparking reports of arguments and divisions between various Taliban factions. 

Prior to Wednesday's video, Baradar had been away from the public eye for nearly a week - an unusual move for the most visible member of present Taliban leadership. 

On Monday, the Taliban tweeted a voice recording supposedly from Baradar in which the leader denied rumors of his death. But because the message was pre-recorded and had no real-time footage, it only added to speculation, the Post reported. 

The Post added that an interview by private Afghan media group Tolo News said violence erupted at demonstrations in Afghanistan and people assumed to be traitors were killed as former government officers were recruited to serve the new regime. 

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Congress on Tuesday that the Biden administration would prohibit Afghanistan from accessing humanitarian aid and government assets until the Taliban "proved itself" a a governing body.